St. Augustine

Shannon LeDuke / WJCT

St. Augustine will commemorate 450 years as the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the United States this year. Anniversary planning has been an arduous process for St. Augustine City officials, and with only six months to go, there is still much to be done. The 450th has been the subject of many heated discussions, with many questioning the finances and the plans. We speak with Dana St. Claire, director of the St. Augustine 450th Commemoration, and Alexa Epitropoulos, reporter with the Jacksonville Business Journal.

Anna Hamilton

This September, St. Augustine will commemorate 450 years as the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the United States. Anniversary planning has been an arduous process for St. Augustine City officials — and with only six months to go, there is still much to be done.

Signs are already up in historical St. Augustine announcing the 450th commemoration. Crowds pass under them in the trolley plaza next to a big new parking garage. In anticipation of September, the city is dusting off its dancing shoes.

Murphy Stidham / WJCT News

Builders broke ground today on the St. Augustine Aquarium, opening soon near Interstate 95. By the end of June, owners Shawn and Kathy Hiester plan to open a zip line course and snorkel adventure on the property.

Sean Hiester says the snorkel tank will hold 80,000 gallons of water and a variety of marine life.

“The undersea world is truly magical, and I’ve had the opportunity to experience that through SCUBA diving over the years," he said. "My wife isn’t able to SCUBA dive. It was her idea to bring the sea world to the people who can’t dive.”

Shannon LeDuke / WJCT

Dozens of St. Augustine locals came together last night to attend The St. Augustine Symposium, a local speaker series created by Micah Gilliam.

Gilliam and his wife Lauren moved to St. Augustine so Lauren could pursue glass blowing. The two also play in a few bands together. 

“One of his friends is more independently minded, autodidactic, person who talked a lot about the olden days of symposium guys in togas sitting around and debating the great ideas of the day and Micah really loved that idea,” Lauren Gilliam said.

Mayor Alvin Brown / Facebook

We speak with incumbent Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown the day before Election Day 2015.

Debbie Lamb, Coordinating Producer for the C-Span Cities Tour, about their stop in St. Augustine this week. A C-Span crew will be producing segments focused on the city's history and literature that will air on C-Span's Book TV and American History TV in April.

We get a preview of MOCA Jacksonville's latest "Project Atrium" exhibit spotlighting the work of German artist Angela Glajcar from MOCA Assistant Curator Jaime DeSimone and Communications Director Denise Reagan.

Google Maps

The city of St. Augustine is monitoring the San Sebastian River after a sewage spill this weekend. A power outage at a city utility station sent thousands of gallons of untreated sewage flowing into the river.

A raccoon shorted out power to a sewer lift station at the end of Helen Street in St. Augustine at around 10 p.m. on Friday. But city crews were not aware of it until 8 a.m. the next morning. They restored power, but not before an estimated 60,000 gallons of sewage flowed into the San Sebastian.

Equality Florida

Same-sex marriages have been performed in Florida since early January. A study from UCLA predicts Florida business owners will reap the benefits of additional weddings to the tune of $182 million over the next three years.

WJCT Business Analyst John Burr says, in Northeast Florida, St. Augustine is especially well-positioned to capitalize. That’s because, Burr says, business owners there have been marketing to the LGBT crowd for years.

Clyde and Corrita Warner came to St. Augustine on vacation from Louisville, Ky. They know their history.

"Well, I knew that this started before the Pilgrims landed and before Jamestown," says Corrita. "You know, this area was first."

St. Augustine treasures being the first — and oldest — city in the United States. So when the area around Jamestown, Va., adopted the title "America's First Region" a while back, the gloves came off.

Ramon Vilanova

On Valentine's Day, a St. Augstine art gallery invited the public to meet a Spanish painter considered one of the greatest living landscape artists. Ramon Vilanova’s paintings sell for $10,000 to $40,000. And the gallery hosting him Vilanova is no stranger to super-sized art sales.

Shannon LeDuke / WJCT

We speak with City Councilman and mayoral candidate Bill Bishop about the focus of his campaign in the primary against incumbent Mayor Alvin Brown and leading GOP candidate Lenny Curry.

Ann Chinn and Ann Cobb of the Middle Passage Ceremonies and Port Markers Project join us to discuss the history of Africans in St. Augustine. The group will unveil an historic marker to commemorate the slaves who were brought to the nation’s oldest city this weekend.

newspapers, coins, etc.
Diocese of St. Augustine

  The city and Catholic Diocese of St. Augustine are both busy preparing for a joint celebration of the 450th anniversary of their founding. The Cathedral of St. Augustine is undergoing renovations ahead of the mega event this September. This week, workers on the cathedral’s altar discovered a piece of St. Augustine history from a more recent era.

Cathedral Basilica Rector, Father Thomas Willis, says he was in his office when his contractor, Brian Baker, brought in the unexpected find.

"Mr. Baker was totally excited about it," Willis says. 

A former city employee that was forced to quit, Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches, and two high profile robberies are in the headlines today.

waterworks building
City of St. Augustine

A historic St. Augustine building is a step closer to getting a major renovation after state officials signaled this month it’s a strong grant candidate. The former water pumping station was essential to the city’s growth at the turn of the last century.

For five years, the former waterworks building turned garden club has sat empty, bolstered against the weather and time with scaffolding.

St. Augustine Planning and Building Director John Birchim says the octagon-shaped structure supplied water to residents and tourists during Henry Flagler’s hotel boom starting in 1897.

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority's new bus routes, the Duval GOP Secretary and a local protest about Eric Gardner are all in the headlines affecting Northeast Florida today.

PBS Frontline

A new prosecutor will be investigating the 2010 death of St. Augustine resident Michelle O'Connell.